Why Is My Car Overheating?

why-is-my-car-overheating

The temperature gauge spikes to the red zone on your dash. The information display on your cluster lights up, telling you the engine is too hot. Just a few moments of driving your car like this results in your car overheating, if it hasn’t already.


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Steam will start to billow from under the hood. Coolant drips or pours onto the ground under your engine. It takes a long time for your engine to cool down enough to drive again, but it might not be safe to do so.

What to Do if Car is Overheating

Why is my car overheating?Car overheating causes are many, but there’s only one thing to do when your car is overheating: let it cool off!! In most circumstances, that means pulling over to the side of the road and turning off your engine.

The moment you see a warning that your engine temperature is much higher than it should be, deal with it. Once your car overheats, expensive and inconvenient damage and begins to happen. The longer your car is allowed to overheat, the worse the damage gets. That also means repair costs skyrocket.

Sometimes, the engine cools off quickly if you can get moving faster. If your car overheating issue is because you’re in slow-moving traffic, get to the interstate or highway. The more air you can push through the radiator at highway speeds, the faster your engine will cool down. But if the temperature climbs into the red zone, shut it down.

Did You Know?

If your car overheats just once, the likelihood of a repeat occurrence is much higher. The costs to fix an overheating car are among the highest repair bills, sometimes exceeding the vehicle’s value.

If you have a car overheating, sell it to CarBrain and avoid the expense and aggravation of high-cost cooling system and engine repairs.

Why is My Car Overheating?

Nearly all the time, your car is overheating because there’s a real problem. It’s not just your environment or a one-time issue – there’s a situation that must be addressed.

Car Overheating Causes

Overheating car engines can be caused by:

  • Water pump failure. The water pump isn’t circulating the engine coolant to remove excessive heat from inside.

  • Radiator blockage. If antifreeze can’t flow through your radiator, the heat can’t disperse into the air as it should.

  • Stuck thermostat. The thermostat regulates your engine temperature. A common cause of car overheating is a low-cost thermostat stuck closed, restricting coolant flow.

  • Low engine coolant level. An engine coolant leak internally or externally reduces the level in the system, preventing proper cooling.

  • Blown head gasket. A blown head gasket can be the cause or the result of car overheating issues. Coolant can leak out, air gets sucked in, and the engine temperature needle wraps around to full hot.

  • Plugged heater core. The heat exchanger inside your car that keeps you warm on cold days can cause your engine to overheat. If the heater core is plugged, coolant flow restricts.

Car Overheating Repair Cost

The cost to repair car overheating varies depending on the extent of the damage. If you were careful to shut the engine off as soon as you noticed the warning light, you may have minimized the damage. But if you’ve seen the steam from the engine or noticed coolant on the ground, it’s probably too late.

Some minor repairs include heater hose replacement, thermostat replacement, cooling fan wiring repairs, and antifreeze flushes. These issues often cost a couple hundred dollars or less.

Major repairs may involve extensive engine work. Water pump replacement, changing the heater core, replacing the radiator, and head gasket replacement are commonly $500 to $1,500 on many cars. Specialty engines including diesel engines can be much more expensive, even $5,000 or more.

If your engine has overheated badly, the cylinder head needs to be pressure tested and inspected for warping. Under extreme heat or temperature changes, the engine block cracks, which is another condition that needs to be looked at. If your car is overheating for a long time, the engine can seize up, requiring a complete rebuild or replacement. These issues are all several thousand dollars to fix and are often not worth the cost of repair.

What if My Car Smells Hot But Not Overheating?

If your car smells hot but not overheating on the temperature gauge, it still needs to be inspected. It could be as simple as a plastic bag stuck to the exhaust or a bit of oil spilled from your last oil change. More serious problems exist that can cause that hot smell too. It may by burnt wiring or a brake caliper that’s seized, overheating your brakes.

Is Your Car Overheating? We Have Your Answer.

If your engine has overheated and you just don’t want to deal with the repair costs and inconvenience, CarBrain has the solution. Sell us your less-than-perfect car to minimize the hassle. It’s easy and it’s fast. Simply fill out our form with your vehicle’s details. We’ll make you a guaranteed offer based on its current condition. Once you accept the offer, we’ll send you a check and send a truck to pick up your car.

Wondering what your car is worth? Ask us for a guaranteed offer today.

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